By Jacqueline Monahan
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Party for the Planet™ Earth Day Celebration at Mandalay Bay Shark Reef

This month Earth Day turns 40 and to celebrate, The Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay hosted Party for the Planet™, a free festival on Saturday, April 17. Held in connection with the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) which is also promoting events in more than 100 major markets across the country, Party for the Planet™ is the largest multiple Earth Day event in North America. This is the aquarium’s second year hosting the event.


Children visiting the Shark Reef Aquarium had an opportunity to have their photo taken with mascot Sharkie the Shark and make a special Earth Day craft. In addition, the first 500 guests who recycled batteries or cell phones received 2-for-1 admission to the aquarium. Guests 17 years of age and older who donated blood got a free admission. (United Blood Services)

Party for the Planet™ continued throughout the halls directly inside the Mandalay Bay South Convention Center entrance, (an electric vehicle exhibit was just outside) the exhibit was reminiscent of a science fair, complete with display tables and tri-fold poster boards. Discovery loomed around each corner, and a short walk uncovered facts, photos and hands-on artifacts for visitors to encounter and explore.


The environmental celebration consisted of informational booths, activities and samples for all those interested in “going green”. Conservation and sustainability issues were prominent topics. Participating organizations and their assorted offerings included:

• City of Las Vegas Environmental Division (Don’t be a Pain in the Drain pot scrapers to avoid pouring fat and grease into the sewer system)
• City of Las Vegas Water Pollution Control Facility (Diagram of the water treatment process and its reuse)
• Desert Tortoise Conservation Center (Information on saving the endangered desert tortoise which is an indicator species of the environment’s well-being).
• Gilcrease Nature Sanctuary (Sanctuary for wildlife and former pets;
displayed two cages of birds; one held goslings and a black duckling, the other, a white cockatoo;)
• Green Chips (Environmental sustainability public/private non-profit partnership assisting various organizations)
• Las Vegas Natural History Museum (native animal pelts; information on the area’s animals going back to the dinosaur era)
• Nevada Department of Wildlife (native Nevada fish species poster; venomous reptiles of Nevada illustrated brochure; Nevada Fishing Regulations magazine).
• Public Lands Institute of UNLV (statewide map of public lands recreational opportunities; Mojave Desert wildlife cards)
• Recycling Services - Republic, Evergreen, and UNLV Rebel recycling (fact: the energy saved annually through recycled cans could light the city of Las Vegas for two years).
• Reef Check (Coral reef poster; fact: 20% of the world’s reefs have already been destroyed)
• Southern Nevada Water Authority (2010 calendar highlighting Water Smart tops; toilet tank leak detection tablets)
• Southwest Gas (Hot water gauges for efficient thermostat control; rebates for high efficiency appliances)
• U.S. Dept. of Energy (Operation Clean Desert interactive adventure DVD)
• U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Introductory information about the agency’s mission - to work with organizations to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people).

Also on hand were members of the Las Vegas Electric Vehicle Association, a fascinating story unto itself. The Association promotes the conversion of gas-guzzling, pollution-emitting cars into those run by pristine electric power that’s stored in a rechargeable battery. Refueling is done at home via a simple plug-in. Conversion kits cost between $4000-6000 and batteries between $700-1200. There are no more tune-ups, emission checks, or oil changes. Electricity can be generated using renewable resources like solar, wind, or geothermal power. Intrigued? Look for a full-length article on LVEVA coming soon in this space.

Not to be outdone, the Shark Reef Aquarium (and host organization) offered some examples of its own efforts to conserve energy and resources:

• All Shark Reef Aquarium letterhead, envelopes and business cards are printed on 100% post consumer paper.
• Water conservation plaques are displayed in guest bathroom stalls.
• "Conserve Energy: Turn off lights when not in use" signs are placed throughout the aquarium light switches.
• 90% of aquarium water is recycled on a monthly basis. This results in 2.1 million gallons of reclaimed water per year.

Party for the Planet™ highlighted Earth as the ultimate host, spreading the message that, as her guests, it’s the least we can do to clean up after ourselves so future generations can experience her hospitality as well. After all, Earth Day is only forty. Earth, with our continuing help, is forever.

About Mandalay Bay Shark Reef Aquarium

Shark Reef Aquarium (SRA) is comprised of nearly 1.6 million gallons of water in 14 exhibits, including rare Golden Crocodiles, Piranha, a Touch Pool Experience and over 30 sharks in the 1.3 million gallon Shark Exhibit. Guests also experience two walk through tunnel exhibits giving almost a 360 degree view of the underwater habitat.

Costing nearly $60 million, the facility was designed with the idea of immersing the visitor into an underwater world in the desert, and features more that 2,000 animals including 100 sharks, (15 different species) along with exotic fish, reptiles and sea turtles.

Since opening on June 20, 2000, Shark Reef Aquarium (SRA) has welcomed over 8 million visitors,) and over 100,000 of the Las Vegas Valley's school children). In 2003, SRA became the first animal care facility in the State of Nevada to be accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, a distinction they continue to hold as first and only to this day.

For further information:

Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay
3950 Las Vegas Blvd. South
Las Vegas, NV 89119
(702) 632-4555



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